This handicapper believes home-court advantage is often overrated by both oddsmakers and the betting public. We'll test our theory with two free college basketball picks for Tuesday night.
Kansas State +10.5 vs. Iowa State
The Cyclones, coming off a huge home victory over Kansas, host the improving Wildcats for a Big 12 bout.
ISU just beat the Jayhawks Saturday 86-81. Iowa State shot 51 percent from the floor and led almost the whole way, at times by comfortable margins. Big-picture, the Cyclones should contend for a top-three finish in the Big 12 this season. However, they are not above experiencing the normal ups and downs most college basketball teams go through, often on a game-to-game basis. Iowa State has also played five close games in a row, and our guess is that trend will continue tonight.
On the other side of this match-up, we figured Kansas State had just enough to make it back to the NCAA tournament this season. But then the Wildcats started 7-7, losing to, among others, Long Beach State and Texas Southern. They also lost their first Big 12 game, to Oklahoma State. But K State might have found something recently, because it's won four in a row, knocking off TCU, winning at Oklahoma as a 12-point underdog, beating Texas Tech and, last time out, coming from behind to beat Baylor 63-61. On the season the 'Cats are allowing just 62 points per game, and they've held each of their first five conference foes to 63 points or less. And the Sooners needed overtime to get to 63.
Coming off the big win over Kansas, we won't be surprised if Iowa State experiences a letdown of some degree tonight. And the spread seems inflated on this games college basketball odds, probably thanks in large part also to the victory over the Jayhawks. Meanwhile, K State is playing some pretty good defense; if the Wildcats can hold the Cyclones in the 60s, maybe even the low 70s, they'll have a good chance at covering this spread. We'll take the points in this spot.
Free College Basketball Pick: Kansas State +10 at Pinnacle Sports
Iowa +10 vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers host a Big Ten border battle with the Hawkeyes.
Wisconsin is battling for Big Ten supremacy and a good seed in the NCAA tournament, but the big spreads are catching up with the Badgers. Last time out they beat Nebraska 70-55, but could only push the number as 15-point favorites. So since Christmas Wisconsin, while going 5-1 straight up, is just 1-4-1 ATS, because it couldn't cover at -22 against Buffalo, -19 against Penn State or -16 against Purdue, and lost as a 15-point favorite at Rutgers. Also, the Badgers are playing without starting PG Traevon Jackson, who's recovering from a broken bone in his foot.
Like Kansas State, we figured Iowa had enough for a return trip to the Big Dance this season. The Hawkeyes have hit a couple of hiccups along the way, most recently kind of blowing a game against Michigan State two weeks ago, but they've won their last two, beating the Gophers in Minneapolis and Ohio State in Iowa City. So Iowa is tied with Wisconsin for second place in the Big Ten at 4-1, a half-game behind first-place Maryland.
Each of the last seven games in this rivalry have been decided by seven points or less, five by four points or less and two in overtime. Why would we think anything different would happen tonight? We'll take the road dog in this game as our NCAA Basketball pick, too, plus the points.
Free College Basketball Pick: Iowa +10 at Heritage